Interview with Philippe Rosenfelder, Sales Manager at Flexco Europe GmbH, Rosenfeld/Germany.
Mr. Rosenfelder, how important is the mining industry to Flexco and what challenges have to be overcome in this sector?
We are one of the world’s leading suppliers of mechanical fastening systems for light and heavy-duty conveyors. Our solutions are used in a wide range of different industries. Amongst the heavy-duty applications, the mining industry is extremely important. We see tremendous potential for us to develop further in this industry. This is because conditions for man and machine are often very harsh, particularly in underground mining. It can be as cold as the Arctic or as hot as the desert. Users of conveyor belt systems in this extreme environment must not only be able to improve their processes but also considerably simplify maintenance and repair work. A machine failure can have critical consequences in these surroundings. However, many of the end customers’ decision-makers shy away from investing in solutions which will enable them to operate their systems more economically. They often only have an eye on the costs but do not see the long-term savings. It is a challenge for us to convince operators that they will be able to work more profitably in the long term with our systems.
How do you make sure with your mechanical fasteners that maintenance and repair work on the conveyor belt systems in mines is always carried out quickly and with the same quality? What role does vulcanisation play?
Vulcanisation is a very effective process. We differentiate between “cold” and “hot” vulcanisation. The hot version gives the fastener very high tensile strength. However, the problem is that the process can take several hours. Also, the ends of the belt must be pre-prepared and specially treated. It is sometimes impossible for older and worn belts to be joined. Furthermore, the tools required for the process are difficult to handle. We also achieve high tensile strength with our mechanical fasteners. In doing so, it is necessary to choose the right systems for the plant and the conveyor belt and to install them correctly. Our solutions then last much longer than many people think. Many users still think that mechanical fasteners are only temporary, and as soon as the system shuts down the service engineers vulcanise the ends of the belt. They underestimate the quality that we can offer with our solutions. A major advantage is also the time-saving. Depending on the type of belt and the width, our fasteners can be installed very quickly. This is a great advantage. We work together with local distributors to enable us to provide the best advice and support for the end customer.
What requirements does the industry place on conveyor belt fasteners today and how is Flexco responding to this?
Faults and machine stoppages on belt conveyor systems frequently lead to long down times. Production and delivery can be completely disrupted. For many operators in the mining industry, this can be expensive with regard to international competition. If conveyor belts are damaged, for the most part, service personnel, who are not always quickly available on site, are required to carry out the repair. This shows how important a reliable, easy-to-install fastener with high tensile strength is. With our new XP range, we have developed mechanical fasteners which meet this difficult challenge in the mining industry and prevent unplanned stoppages of belt conveyor systems. (Figure 1)
What distinguishes this new range and how, specifically, do your users benefit?
XP fasteners have a very high tensile strength of up to 3,500 kN/m. The range is suitable both for PVC conveyor belts and for the more frequently used solid woven belts. Service staff is able to install the XP fasteners quite easily in these difficult conditions. A manual or hydraulic tool is used for assembly. Using hydraulics, joints can be produced with a consistently high pressure and loading on the side of the belt. We have presented our new fasteners live to visitors at the Ugol Rossii & Mining exhibition in the Russian town of Novokuznetsk and to customers on site.
What was behind this new development – do the operators always come directly to you?
We do not expect operators to come to us with specific requests and requirements. We go to the customers. Our outside sales force is in permanent contact with them for this purpose. As an internationally leading provider of mechanical fastening systems, we strive to meet users’ expectations. With the development of the XP fastener, we are able to offer a new solution.
How important to you are exhibitions such as the Ugol Rossii & Mining and what expectations do you have?
In Russia, the Ugol Rossii & Mining is the most important exhibition in this sector. Many of our customers come as visitors. For us, the Ugol is a means of maintaining contact. However, we also get to know potential customers and are able to generate additional market share. In meetings with the users, they report on the challenges facing them, and we are able to offer appropriate solutions. In Novokuznetsk in Russia, the Flexco research team was present on site to analyse market trends and developments. Exhibitions such as the Ugol and the continuous exchange with the users help us to offer the best solutions for our customers and to carry out development with an eye on the future.
Further information/Weitere Informationen:
Flexco Europe GmbH